The Development of a Six-Week-Old Baby

By Emily Pate
portrait of 2 weeks old baby image by Alena Yakusheva from Fotolia.com

The first six weeks of a newborn's life are filled with developmental milestones. Her motor, cognitive and communication skills are evolving daily, and she is becoming more aware of her surroundings each moment. While baby's development will continue through infancy and into childhood, development through the first six weeks is especially compounded.

Motor Skills

Between birth and six weeks, your baby will develop various motor skills. By six weeks old, she should be able to lift her head up while you're holding her, lift both her head and chest when laying on her stomach, turn her head from one side to the other when laying on her tummy, track a moving object with her eyes when it's passed in front of her at a fairly close distance and grasp objects like a rattle. Your baby should also be able to have his hands close or open and kick his legs and arms out.

Reflex Development

A significant part of your six week old's motor development is the emergence of several reflexes. The moro reflex appears immediately after birth. If your pediatrician gently lets baby fall back a few inches (catching his head and body safely), your little one will outstretch his arms as if trying to grab onto something to stop the fall. Your baby will also still have a strong rooting reflex at six weeks. If you touch the corner of her mouth, she will lower her lip and turn her head in the direction you rubbed. This reflex helps babies nurse. If you place your finger in his mouth, baby will initiate his sucking reflex. The grasp reflex occurs when anything comes into contact with baby's hand. She will grasp onto it tightly.

Communication and Cognition

Besides motor skills and reflexes, your baby's social and cognitive skills are also already developing. These are exhibited by baby's ability to turn his head to the sound of your voice or a bell ringing, recognize his bottle or mom's breast, smile back at you, coo and gurgle, show an interest in peek-a-boo and communicate his emotions by crying, sounds and facial expressions.

During the Sixth Week

This week your baby is practicing her grasp reflex by reaching for items near her and grabbing everything you give her. Since her sensory perception is strengthening, it's important to provide her with stimulation from things like mobiles and infant activity centers. She may not be able to move things around just yet, but she will try to grasp at things, and if you show her how the toys work now, you'll be surprised at how quickly she begins manipulating them later on. By six weeks, some babies will sleep through the night or cut down on nighttime feedings.

Looking Ahead to Seven Weeks

In the next few weeks (or perhaps already by the sixth week), your baby will begin holding his hands open most of the time. He'll also be batting at things within his reach, so keep dangerous objects at a safe distance. Your baby will also have more frequent quiet, alert times when you can engage him in conversation or play, which will further his development.